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Queer Women and Religious Individualism

Melissa M. Wilcox

Publication Year: 2009

Melissa M. Wilcox explores the complex spiritual lives of queer women in the Los Angeles area. She takes the reader on a tour of a colorful array of religious and secular groups that serve as spiritual resources for these women -- from the well-known Metropolitan Community Churches to Wiccan covens, from the Gay and Lesbian Sierrans to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Arguing that these women's stories are exemplary cases of postmodern patterns of religious identity, belief, and practice, Wilcox offers a nuanced analysis of contemporary Western spirituality and selfhood, and a detailed exploration of the history of queer religious organizing in Los Angeles. Queer Women and Religious Individualism is important reading for scholars in religious studies, sociology, women's studies, and LGBT studies.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

That this book project has come to fruition is the result of a great deal of luck and the generosity and support of many people. Keeping a newborn academic career alive in the current market is a difficult task, made even more challenging by my decision to study religion within fields that generally prefer to marginalize or ignore it: ...

Map of Los Angeles

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pp. xii

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1 Beyond the Congregation

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pp. 1-15

Spirituality seems to be booming in the twenty-first-century United States. So too, for that matter, is sex—or at least discussions about, debates over, marketing of, and media obsession with sex. Is there a connection between the two? Self-help books and DVDs promote a variety of forms of “sacred sex,” most of them severe misinterpretations ...

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2 Setting the Stage: Historical Contexts

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pp. 16-42

“All the fruits and nuts are in California.” So goes the saying, referring not only to the state’s bounteous produce but also derisively to gay men (fruits) and followers of new religious movements (nuts). This saying was particularly apropos in the 1960s and 1970s; however, California has a long history of both religious and sexual diversity, ...

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3 Queering the Spiritual Marketplace

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pp. 43-80

The Reverend Susan Russell is a priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, just north of Los Angeles. Her main assignment there is to direct a project called Beyond Inclusion, a nationwide effort to convince the Episcopal Church to adopt a formal liturgy for blessing same-sex couples. ...

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4 Negotiating Religion: Continuity, Conversion, Innovation

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pp. 81-131

Asked how she would introduce herself to people interested in this research project, Christine Peña said simply, “My name is Christine. I am a spiritual being having a human experience, here on this planet. Hello.”1 Though each participant answered this question in different ways ...

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5 Tiles in the Mosaic: Organizations as Resources

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pp. 132-164

In the mid-1990s, theologian Mary Hunt wrote, “‘Where have all the women gone?’ is an oft-sung hymn” in LGBT church groups.1 Academics, too, have sung this refrain since the early 1990s, and have been humming a similar tune since 1974—in the context of not only church groups but synagogues as well. ...

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6 Building a Mosaic: The Sacred (and the) Self

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pp. 165-195

Self-identity has become central to the partnership of individualism and consumerism that drives much of contemporary U.S. popular culture. Not only clothes and means of transportation, but cell phone covers and even candy can be personalized to display “who” the consumer “really is.” ...

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7 Queer Women, Religion, and Postmodernity

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pp. 196-212

The religious (and irreligious) life stories of these twenty-nine les

Appendix A. Biographical Summaries

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pp. 213-216

Appendix B. Methods and Methodological Considerations

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pp. 217-227

Appendix C. Interview Schedules

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pp. 228-232


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pp. 233-260

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 261-266


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pp. 267-276

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004024
E-ISBN-10: 0253004020
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353511

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 1 map
Publication Year: 2009